But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.
Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
All of us, then, who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you. Only let us live up to what we have already attained (Philippians 3:7-16, NIV).
Let me summarize what Paul models for us in Philippians 3:7-16 like this: Christ delivers you from your past, disciples you in the present, and directs your future.
Christ delivers you from your past. There are two ways in which Christ does this.
First, He delivers you from your good past. That seems strange doesn’t it? That God actually wants to deliver you from your good past. He does. And the reason He does is because our successes often tempt us to think we are better than we are and that we don’t need God that much. It’s true isn’t it? When things are going well and we can’t seem to do anything wrong, we pray less, read the Bible less, and even worship less. God does not want you stuck in your good past. After all if your best times, best accomplishments, and best memories are behind you and not in front of you, you’re a “has been.” God did not create you to be a “has been.” The good news of Jesus Christ is that He delivers you from your EGO, from your desire to “Edge God Out,” that makes an idol out of your past.
Second, Christ delivers you from your bad past. Oh, this is good news! Jesus wants you to know that your past is past! It’s over! No matter how bad it was. No matter how dark, no matter how painful, no matter how wretched your past may have been, it is over! Your sin, your failures, your, pain and suffering were nailed to the cross. Your sins and failures died, and your pain and suffering were transformed from life-killing to life-creating experiences.
Christ disciples you in the present. God is right now using everything in your present to disciple you, to mentor you, to coach you, and to parent you so that you will learn to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength and love your neighbor as yourself. God never wastes a hurt and nothing that comes into your day is an accident or something that God did not design specifically for you to help you become more like Christ. We need to remember what God says to us in 1 Peter 4:12-13, Dear friends, don’t be surprised at the fiery trials you are going through, as if something strange were happening to you. Instead, be very glad—because these trials will make you partners with Christ in his suffering, and afterward you will have the wonderful joy of sharing his glory when it is displayed to all the world.
And last, Christ directs your future. What I mean by that is that He is in control of your future. If Christ is your Lord, you do not need to worry about missing the reward of heaven. Your future is secure. You can bank on God’s faithfulness. Paul says in Philippians 1:6 (NIV), that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.